Self-Driving Vehicles Are Going to Make Traffic Even More Miserable, Says New Study

By Taylor Donovan Barnett : interestingengineering – excerpt

Whether you like it or not, self-driving cars will be hitting the road in full-force in the coming years. Thanks to new technology developed by companies like Tesla and even Uber, autonomous vehicles will become a staple of modern culture, with nearly 10 million self-driving cars expected to hit the road by 2020.

Yet, not all is well across the autonomous landscape. Like any new technology, there have literally been speed bumps in the world of self-driving cars. From accidents to malfunctioning AI, self-driving vehicles are still very much in their infancy.

However, new research in the world of autonomous vehicles has uncovered another potential issue down the line, parking. Anyone living in a metropolitan area will tell you that parking is always a long-winded adventure. According to a new study, autonomous vehicles could create a problematic parking issue…

The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem

Professor Millard breaks down his concerns further in his published paper, “The Autonomous Vehicle problem.” In his paper, he estimates that just the presence of the relatively small amount of 2,000 self-driving vehicles in the San Francisco area will slow traffic to less than 2 miles per hour(more)

Want to work on a job that is threatened by this new tech future plan? Do not want to live in the slow lane? Maybe take this up with your state public utility regulation agency, your state reps and your local government officials now. Insist on a pubic conversation about this new technology.

After taking on taxis, ride-share services now challenging public transit in U.S.

By Clyde Hughes : upi – excerpt

Jan. 8 (UPI) — While taxi companies have long complained about ride-share services like Uber and Lyft cutting into their business, ride-hailing may be eating away at a new victim — public transit.

In some of the largest cities in the United States and around the world, public ridership is falling in areas where ride-sharing services are on the rise. In cities like New York City, which just landed a future location for Amazon new East Coast headquarters, there’s been a noticeable drop in subway and bus riders — while ride-sharing picked up nearly 15 percent in one year…

“The actual amounts of riders added to for-hire vehicle-taxi market is strikingly similar to the same number of riders we see [declining] in subways and buses,” Mulligan told the NYC Transit board recently. “This is the best analysis and evidence that we have to date, of not just a correlation between for-hire-vehicle growth and subway ridership decline, but causation.”…. (more)

RELATED:

Uber races Lyft in filing for 2019 stock market debut

Dec. 8 (UPI) — Uber filed paperwork this week for an initial public offering setting up a race with competitor Lyft to be the first to go public, reports indicate.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both reported Friday, citing unnamed sources, that the ride-hailing company confidentially filed the paperwork this week, signaling that it could enter the market in the first quarter of 2019… (more)

After transbay fare hike, it can be cheaper to drive than ride AC Transit

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

The cost to take an AC Transit bus across the Bay Bridge jumped to $5.50 Tuesday, which means that at some times of day, bus passengers will pay more than people who drive.

It’s the first of three increases over five years, intended to pay for service improvements and capital costs at the Transbay Transit Center, which has been closed since September. Fares shot up by a dollar Tuesday and will rise by 50 cents next year, and another 50 cents in 2022, bringing the price then to $6.50… (more)

It is one step forward and another back for commuters on AC Transit.

Uber shuts down its controversy-steeped self-driving truck effort to focus on autonomous cars

usatoday – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber’s self-driving vehicle efforts are now entirely focused on automobiles, a technological challenge that could mean a financial windfall to ride-hailing companies.

The company recently announced it was shuttering its self-driving truck division, which after its founding in 2016 almost immediately became mired in controversy and was the subject of a lawsuit by rival self-driving car company, Google-owned Waymo.

“We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement provided to USA TODAY. “As we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward.”

Uber’s self-driving efforts took a big hit earlier this year when one of its Volvo SUVs equipped with autonomous sensors failed to detect a pedestrian crossing the street in a Phoenix suburb. The Volvo’s safety driver also did not react in time, leading to the death of Elaine Herzberg, 49… (more)

This is another case of selling products that don’t exist while they are in an experimental design phase to get ahead of the perceived competition. Good to hear they are at least letting go of self-driving trucks.

Falling transit ridership poses an ‘emergency’ for cities, experts fear

washingtonpost – excerpt

Commuters tire of the \shuttle bus shuffle that crawls through San Francisco streets. Crowded Muni is painfully slow and standing room only is hardly a ride worth taking when other modes offer clean, comfortable seats.

Transit ridership fell in 31 of 35 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. last year, including each of the seven cities that serve the majority of riders, with losses largely stemming from buses, but punctuated by reliability issues on systems like Metro, according to an annual overview of public transit usage.

The analysis by the New York-based TransitCenter advocacy group, using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Transit Database, raises alarm about the state of “legacy” public transit systems in the Northeast and Midwest and rising vehicle ownership and car-based commuting in cities nationwide.

Researchers concluded that factors such as lower fuel costs, increased teleworking, higher car ownership and the rise of alternatives such as Uber and Lyft are pulling people off trains and buses at record levels…

“Transit systems should deliver quality service to low-income people. But low-income people do not owe us a transit system.”…

Metro is mulling a major redesign of the bus system. But first, officials need to figure out why people aren’t riding.]… (more)

Uber Finally Admits It’s Taking on Buses

By Paris Marx : medium – excerpt

It’s not the only company looking to control urban transportation

Uber’s transportation ambitions have steadily grown since its inception. It started by taking on black cars, then challenged taxis before getting into food delivery and launching uberPOOL, which increasingly came to resemble a fixed-route bus service. But Uber diehards have insisted that the company was just innovating on its taxi model, not going after transit…

At a recent conference, Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced co-founder Travis Kalanick as CEO in August 2017, told attendees, I want to run the bus systems for a city. I want you to be able to take an Uber and get into the subway… get out and have an Uber waiting for you.” He also compared the role of cars in Uber’s business model to that of books in Amazon’s: the first step to expanding into multiple other markets. With that information, do you still not believe Uber is going after transit?…

Uber Can’t be Trusted to Operate Transit

Becoming a transit operator is not simply the ambition of a new Uber CEO, but has been part of the company’s strategy for at least a couple of years. It already has agreements with a number of smaller cities in the United States and Canada to subsidize ride-hailing trips, occasionally with conditions attached. But there’s good reason to be worried about Uber’s intentions and the service it would ultimately deliver…

Uber’s ride-hailing service made the auto experience worse for millions of people by increasing congestion and travel times; is there any reason to believe the same won’t happen if it makes a more concerted push into transit? (more)

To some people is appears as if the SFMTA has been bought out by the private sector and is letting it fail apart while the agency concentrates on one huge construction project after another. Is it possible to have a real transportation director who does nothing but manage the public transportation system? Will a Charter Amendment save the public Muni system from Uber?